Monday, March 20, 2006

The Toronto Writers' Centre

There was an article in the Globe and Mail this past weekend about the Toronto Writers' Centre, a new venture which is set to open on May 1st:

The Toronto Writers' Centre aims to provide a communal space where writers can pen (or, more accurately, laptop) their latest work, network with other writers and just plain, old get out of the house.

For a one time initiation fee of $107.00 and a monthly fee of $175.00, members gain access to “a 2,600 square foot, air-conditioned, writing haven, divided into a Quiet Room, Lounge and Kitchen.” The Quiet Room contains 30 work spaces, each outfitted with desk, chair, lamp and other electrical outlets, while the Lounge is given over to relaxation, conversation with fellow writers, and occasional readings and seminars.

It’s modelled after similar facilities in other cities such as The Writers Room in New York.

This sounds extremely appealing to me. I have the good fortune to have a pleasant work space at home, but I can’t help but think that getting out of my pajamas and heading downtown to an office of sorts would help me to be more disciplined about work on my novel-in-progress. I also imagine that it would be stimulating and encouraging to work in the midst of other writers like that. I expect that the centre will develop the sort of communal creative energy that I've thrived on at the short-term writing retreats I’ve attended in the past.

The fees will be beyond the means of many a struggling writer, but they are considerably more affordable than the rent on a downtown office.

Is there anyone out there who has taken advantage of such communal writing spaces in other cities? Was it worth the money?


dj sciz said...

Amazing. There are so many cafes in LA that are set up to encourage writing! You can spend all day there for the price of a latte. Plenty of amazing work spots, free Wi-Fi, very quiet music, books and plants, and everyone there is writing. The only thing you get at the Toronto Centre, that I can see, is networking, and the price ensures that only the elite will gain access. I can't see that there's anything good about it.

dj sciz said...

Unless you are among the elite, of course! (smile!)

Kate S. said...

$175.00 a month is not cheap, but it's a fraction of what it would cost for a lone writer to rent an office for him or herself in downtown Toronto. It breaks down to $6 a day which is not much more than the latte you mention. If it makes dedicated work space available to writers who can't afford offices of their own, then there's plenty of good in it. Even more so when the potential for a sense of community to temper the loneliness of a writing life is factored in. For most, writing is not a very lucrative occupation and it's certainly true that many won't be able to afford it. I'm not sure that I can. But I still think it's a good idea.

Mitch K said...

Thanks for your comments Kate. You are right about the value of TWC. Forgive me for intruding, I am the guy behind the Toronto Centre. Many of those joining have been most interested in the community feeling and the ability to leverage off of the collective creative energy. This is what makes these centres so popular in NYC. The fees are tax deductible from earnings as a writer so the actual cost is much less than $6.00 per day and therefore completely in line with the LA pricing - less, actually, if you account for the exchange rate! I would love to have you come for a visit - I know it is not for everyone, but if it assists any writers, then I will be very satisfied.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kate,and Mitch, my name is Adam and I've got a question. I'm an animator from Sheridan college trying to nail down my story for my 4th year film, and I'm looking for a gathering of writers to bounce my ideas off of. Are there any discussion groups? - any clubs in Toronto where I could talk to writers/screenwriters like that? If there aren't there should be. I challenge Mitch to start one, for free, if there aren't. :P

Janet Flemming-Kunc said...

I recently moved to Toronto from Ottawa where I belonged to a writers' group. Once a week at 10:00 a.m. the diversified group sat down and wrote for two hours. For the next hour people were invited to read what they had written or read from some previously written work - or not read at all.
The room was given to us by the Ottawa Public Library at the Centrepointe branch. It was free.
Personally for me, getting out and working with other writers was the best motivation.
As a retired person I cannot possibly afford 175.00 so if anybody out there in the Toronto area knows of a group similar to the one I described I would dearly love to know about it.